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Youth volleyball along with sports in general can be a powerful tool for teaching important life lessons. This video and article shares one of the most important life lessons we as coaches and parents can give our players and kids. In it you will learn techniques to help your youth players embrace challenge and change while developing a “Growth Mindset!”

At Volleyball1on1 we believe this is the most important part of our job, teaching youth important life lessons through the sport of volleyball which we define as “It’s Bigger Than Volleyball!” ™

At age 9 our son Thor got up on stage at his school talent show contest and solved a Rubik’s cube. But he didn’t just solve it. He did a large portion of it with his eyes closed. In front of an audience of over 350 people.

Don’t believe my wife Vanessa and me? Check out the video below:

Needless to say, it blew everybody’s collective mind that a little boy could solve a puzzle which even the much older audience of parents could not. In addition, Thor did it with his eyes closed. Looking back, we can honestly say that this was no accident. This was the result of our belief system on parenting and coaching – “learning to learn”, you could call it.

“Our job as a coaches is to teach our youth players how to become better learners. This will enable them to learn everything, including volleyball faster and more efficiently.” – Andor Gyulai, Co-Founder of Volleyball1on1.

“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be your only sustainable advantage.” – Arie de Geus

“Success in top-level sports is no longer just an athletic contest — it’s a learning contest that takes place on the frontiers of science, technology, and the human body.” – Mark McClusky

At Volleyball1on1 we teach at our high school summer camps youth players how to become better learners. It is a vital component of the Volleyball1on1 “Winning Team Culture” and something we preach daily in the gym at our summer camps. The core of our system are the five steps of a growth mindset:

  1. Believe you can learn.
  2. Be engaged / Find experts.
  3. Make mistakes – lots of them.
  4. Look stupid and silly.
  5. Practice, improve, and do it again.

It might seem whimsical, but those five steps are a proven system that has survived the test of time, helping generation after generation learn and improve and reach their dreams.

With our son Thor and the Rubik’s cube, we began with the belief system first. Vanessa and me told him about a 12-year-old girl who could solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes. Thor took this information as a challenge. Our next step was to find experts online and on YouTube. Thor began engaging with them in the learning process.

Then came the fun part: Thor messed up. A lot. And he looked silly. A lot.

We kept complimenting him for his efforts / struggle. It was in this phase that we swelled with pride when watching our son. He embraced looking silly. He embraced those mistakes. And he continued to practice and improve, mastering the cube at an alarming rate, particularly considering he was nine years old.

A month later, he had mastered the cube. A few weeks after that, Vanessa, our two daughters Veda and Charlie, Thor, and me were enjoying dinner at a Benihana, and my son – a blossoming entertainer, for sure – decided he’d do the cube for our table. With his eyes closed.

When he opened his eyes, he had a perfectly completed Rubik’s Cube and a table of slack-jawed adults, all applauding.

In summary, we live in a rapidly changing world. We need to equip our kids and players with skills they will need both on the volleyball court and off of it. We cannot make progress if we do not yet know how to learn, and our players will need to constantly learn new skills and talents to adjust to the shifting job markets.

And if we can give them this skill while developing a love for volleyball, what better combination could there be? This is Vanessa, Veda, Charlie, and me in this picture with Thor (now 12) to the far right at a recent volleyball practice.

We at Volleyball1on1 call it “It’s Bigger Than Volleyball!” ™ and you can read more about the life lessons we teach at our high school youth summer camps here: Volleyball1on1 Satellite Camps


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